Friday, July 04, 2008

This Post Deleted Because I Was Wrong

I had the facts wrong. I was mistaken. I apologize.

yours in the struggle,

Pastoral Education: Whiffing

Rating: SL, GT

I am striking out all over.

One is on neutropenic precautions and the nurse must be consulted before I can enter the room. She is on the phone. I cannot get her attention.

One is simply not in her room. The other patient in the room is sleeping.

One zips by me in a wheelchair as I am washing my hands. She turns the corner and is gone, in the direction of another patient’s room, a friend who has also asked for a visit.

One is awake but with his doctor, who is speaking with him in clear, unhurried tones. The patient has a trach tube and cannot answer, but his eyes are fixed with rapt attention on the doctor’s face.

One is with the nurse, who seems to be multi-tasking the patient’s many needs.

I return to check on the patient who was not in her room. I ask a nurse if she knows whether the patient has gone into surgery and am told, yes, she has.

The nurse of the patient on neutropenic precautions is still on the phone, or on the phone again. I try to get in her eye-line without listening to what she is saying.

I have washed my hands five times and have nothing at all to show for it.

Well… shit.
Shit shit shit.

Walking outside, past the outpatient clinic and the mammogram screening offices to the street where I can light up, I suddenly realize that all those things that are frustrating the hell out of me are the exact things I pray for when someone I love is hospitalized. What’s wrong with this picture?

What is wrong with me?


So thank you, God, for doctors who take professional pride in their work; who take time to speak at length with someone who cannot speak in return.

Thank you for nurses so attentive to their patients that even when not directly caring for their patients, they are speaking about them to doctors and loved ones, so intently that it is hard for the chaplain to get their attention.

Thank you for the miraculous blessing of sleep, which is so very hard to come by here, for people whose bodies are traumatized by injury or illness or disease or dysfunction.

Thank you for everyone who has a friend in this place that can sometimes seem so friendless to so many.

Thank you for the surgery that was not delayed by incoming traumas. Thank you for everyone who was kept safe and not in need of emergency surgery.

Thank you for the opportunity to wash my hands
five times
with nothing to show for it.


yours in the struggle,

Pastoral Education; or, This Program is Kicking My Ass

Rating: SL
“God has shown you, O child of earth,
what is right and true in accordance with God’s Word:
to work for justice while judging no one,
with compassion for all,
always remembering that you were born
a vessel of the Divine.”

Gracious God, Conductor of the Universe, what were You thinking???

Reflective listening is not complicated. Basically, you just repeat the last thing the other person said, or you pick out what seems to be the main thing the person said--you know, if s/he's on a talking jag, just pick one phrase--and repeat that back to him/her. It's really just intentional selective echolalia, because you don't actually have to understand what the person meant... you just reflect it back and see what comes out next. It's not rocket science.

So when someone is speaking to me of being deeply betrayed by another, of the pain and anger of being abandoned, it should not be tricky for me to repeat back the words, "and I have such hatred in my heart. I hate [xxxx]."

Yet I cannot. I cannot do it. And I tried, y'all.
Could not make the words come out of my mouth.
But how else is this person, this child of God whom I am here to serve, supposed to expel the pain? How else, except to get it out? And if I can't bear to even repeat the words, how can I possibly help him/her get it out and let it go?

Issues, much???
oh, perhaps.

Edge of the Map

Still moments, soft places.
Little instances of connection.
God of love, hear my prayer.

Infection burst and opened,
to pierce the yielding air with blood and pus
remnants of the dead and the dying
falling and rotting
in the fields of a war buried long ago

I am afraid of the thing I can’t take back.

Beauty is only skin deep
Ugly goes clear to the bone
Anger comes and goes unimpeded by bonds of affection and affinity
and grows only in the presence of love
buds and blossoms and fades and falls
making the soil richer, darker,
more life-giving

But hatred demands loyalty and longevity and commitment
Like La Cosa Nostra
or a tattoo on my
soft place
Once in, never out

Beyond here there be dragons.
Be afraid.
Be very very afraid.

yours in the struggle,

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